The island of Cebu is quickly becoming the next destination—after Manila—for online gambling operators in the Philippines.
Cebu Daily News reported that online gambling operators’ demand for Cebu office spaces grew by 25,700 square meters in 2017, accounting for a quarter of recorded transactions last year.
Data provided by property consultancy firm Colliers International Philippines shows that there are at least two internationally licensed gambling operators in Cebu.
One of the firms occupies a 22,000-square meter space at the Tower 1 Plaza Magellan in Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City, while the other opened nearly 3,700 square meters of office space at Momentum Building in the Cebu Business Park in Cebu City.
While Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)-Voice companies continue to dominate the office landscape, Colliers said that the online gambling business is emerging as a critical landscape in the Philippine island.
In fact, Colliers’ Research Manager Joey Bondoc noted that online gambling operators are scouting for office spaces in Cebu’s Mactan Island and Mandaue City, where office vacancies are recorded.
“With a more conducive local regulatory environment, we expect offshore gambling to become a major contributor to office take up in Cebu,” Colliers said, according to the news outlet.
The property analyst also noted that most Chinese gambling operators tend to purchase residential properties to house their foreign employees.
Philippine property developers are now looking at online gambling firms to play messiah and save the cooling office space sector amid dwindling BPO investments.
Last year, Colliers predicted that the online gambling sector would be the silver lining in the Philippine office space, especially after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) issued the remaining eight of the 53 Philippine offshore gaming operator (POGO) licenses.
PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo estimated that the country’s gross gaming revenue will rise to PHP186 billion (US$3.57 billion) with the bulk of growth coming from POGO licensees.
Domingo said PAGCOR plans to double its revenue target for POGO license holders to PHP6 billion ($115.2 million) this year from PHP3 billion ($56 million) in 2017.
“Colliers sees the current administration’s infrastructure implementation and decentralization thrust benefiting Cebu as it is the largest business destination outside Metro Manila. This should entice more offshore gambling, BPO, KPO and traditional firms to set up shop or expand operations,” according to the Colliers report.